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Daily News Digest – October 20, 2020

Presented by Alabama’s Locally-Owned

Health Mart Community Pharmacies

Good morning!

We are officially two weeks out of Election Day.

Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, October 20.


1. Dueling Senate polls show wide divergence


  • Last week, during a political discussion with WBRC’s Jonathan Hardison, I quipped that if the campaign of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones had polling showing more positive prospects for him, they’d probably release it.
  • Well, that’s exactly what they did. On Friday, a poll conducted by Democratic firm FM3 Research was released showing Jones leading Republican Tommy Tuberville 48-47%.
  • That’s a pretty shocking number, especially considering the last public poll from AUM showed Jones down 12 points to Tuberville.
  • Not to be outdone, Tuberville yesterday released his own internal poll conducted by Erik Iverson’s Moore Group that showed Tuberville leading Jones 55-40%, a 15 point lead.
  • The problem with both polls is that we don’t know many details about the samples. How many identified as a Republican or conservative? How many identified as a Democrat or liberal? How many women vs. men, white vs. black, age differentials, etc. In those details is where you can see how the survey sample lines up with traditional voting patterns and which demographics are expected to turn out in what numbers on Election Day.
  • To be sure, all that information exists because it’s how the survey is built, the campaigns just didn’t release it.
  • The Tuberville polling memo did include a presidential ballot test showing President Donald Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden 55-38% in Alabama, which also lines up pretty closely with that AUM poll.
  • Anyway, see it all for yourself, including the polling memos, HERE.


2. Most of Black Belt lacks sufficient internet access

  • As more Alabamians rely on internet access for virtual learning or telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s Black Belt region is largely unable to meet even the basic standards of adequate broadband access.
  • In a new report from the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, most Black Belt counties are below the statewide average of having access to 100 megabits per second of broadband. All except for two of the 24 counties that the EPC has identified as being part of the Black Belt are below the statewide average of 86% coverage and half are below 50%.
  • Choctaw and Perry counties don’t have any coverage of 100 mbps and Greene county has a negligible 0.02% coverage.
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s official definition of an area being “served” is a minimum of 25 mbps of broadband download ability. But even meeting that standard, Black Belt counties are still mostly below the state average of 88.6% of the population.
  • The state has been working on expanding broadband coverage in recent years. The Legislature passed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act in 2018 to further expand access to underserved communities.
  • The state has also allocated around $275 million in federal CARES Act funding to increasing access to broadband for K-12 students undergoing virtual learning, help local education agencies with virtual learning and to help institutions of higher education.
  • A bill passed in 2019 allows utilities and local electric cooperatives to use existing infrastructure to help place new fiber optic lines and reach more rural areas of the state to provide better broadband service.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.





A message from Alabama’s Locally-Owned

Health Mart Community Pharmacies



  • Alabama’s community pharmacists are more than just the friendly faces that fill your prescriptions every month; they are an essential link in the healthcare chain.
  • In rural areas, community pharmacists are often the first – and sometimes the only – healthcare contact for residents in a community.
  • In addition to keeping Alabama communities healthy by filling prescriptions, most of the APCI network of community pharmacies provide vital healthcare services such as immunizations, clinical testing, and medication counseling.
  • We appreciate the pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy staff members – your friends and neighbors – in our locally-owned pharmacies who go above and beyond to safely meet the healthcare needs of Alabamians.
  • Find your locally-owned community Health Mart pharmacy HERE.




3. Group offers churches $6-a-ballot for early voting effort

  • The “New South Souls to the Polls Initiative” is paying churches a $6 contribution “for each documented early vote” to cover the expenses for outreach and transportation to help people vote early by absentee ballot, according to a letter mailed to pastors by Hank Sanders, a former longtime Democratic state senator from Selma who is organizing the effort. It’s unclear how many churches were offered the funds.
  • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, said he reviewed the situation and determined there is nothing nefarious as long as the $6 is not tied to voting a particular way.
  • “It’s not illegal. It’s certainly not a best practice,” Merrill said in a telephone interview.
  • “It does not say you are going to give it to someone to vote a particular way or vote for a particular party or to vote for, or against, a particular initiative, and so there is nothing there that is illegal.”
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee called it a “desperate and shady cash-for-votes scheme” and noted that a related organization, the New South Alliance, has endorsed Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and Jones’ campaign has given money to the New South Alliance LLC.
  • Sanders said the $6 is intended to compensate groups for transportation, outreach and time to help people vote early and is not tied to how a person will vote.
  • “It says specifically no person can be paid to vote. This is not about paying anybody to vote. It’s about trying to encourage people,” Sanders said in a phone interview.
  • Full story HERE.



4. Senate will work through weekend to confirm Barrett


  • The U.S. Senate will waste no time moving to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • A vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee is set for Thursday and a vote by the full Senate could come as soon as Monday.
  • With a 53-47 Republican majority, and just two GOP senators opposed, Trump’s nominee is on a glide path to confirmation that will seal a conservative hold on the court for years to come.
  • Without the votes to stop Barrett’s ascent, Democrats have few options left. They are searching for two more GOP senators to break ranks and halt confirmation, but that seems unlikely. Never before has a court nominee been voted on so close to a presidential election.
  • If confirmed, Barrett would be Trump’s third justice on the court.
  • Read more on that HERE.
  • The other major plate spinning in Congress is the prospect of another coronavirus relief package.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported some progress in advance of today’s self-imposed deadline for reaching a pre-election deal with President Donald Trump on a new bill, but the same core problems bedeviling the effort remain in place despite optimistic talk from the president and his team.
  • Trump has upped his offer to $1.8 trillion or more and insisted Monday that “the Republicans will come along” if a deal is reached. His chief of staff and communications director took to Fox News to offer optimistic takes. But Republicans have spent months talking about a smaller aid package and the top GOP vote-counter, Sen. John Thune, said Monday that “it would be hard” to find the necessary Republican support for passage of any agreement in that range.
  • Read more on that HERE.



5. Govs. Ivey, Noem & Reynolds: An inspirational pick


  • Gov. Kay Ivey is joined by fellow female Republican Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Kim Reynolds of Iowa in contributing a special op-ed in support of Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
  • In it, the governors celebrate another milestone in the pursuit of equality for women, noting that Barrett’s nomination comes 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment securing women’s right to vote.
  • And yet they lament the partisan atmosphere that will likely see Barrett’s nomination come down to a party-line vote.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“As governors who are either the first or second females to be elected in our respective states, we are rightfully proud to see diversity expand among the highest levels of government. Notably, however, our support for Judge Barrett hinges not on her being a female, but rather her superior intellect, unflappable composure and impeccable integrity, all which combine to make her eminently qualified in every way.
“Regretfully, we know – as do many others – that the climb for women into the upper echelon of American leadership has always been a bit steeper. After all, when was the last time a man’s haircut, the color of his tie or suit or the number of children in his family were scrutinized as part of the public discourse?
“It is bittersweet that Judge Barrett followed her father’s advice that she could do anything her male counterparts could do, only better, and yet, sadly, millions of women appear to oppose her nomination simply because she interprets the law as-written, rather than siding with them on every issue. Is this the new standard for qualification?”
  • Read the full op-ed from Govs. Ivey, Noem and Reynolds HERE.


News Briefs

Auto supplier expansion to add jobs in Cottondale, Anniston

  • ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — A planned expansion by a European auto supplier will add more than 180 new jobs in two Alabama cities, the state said Monday.
  • The governor’s office announced $56 million in projects by International Automotive Components Group North America Inc, which plans a roughly $34 million expansion and 119 new jobs in Cottondale, where it will make door panels and overhead systems.
  • Another nearly $22 million expansion will result in 63 new jobs in Anniston. That plant will also produce door panels plus trim and instrument panels.
  • The company is based in Luxembourg and has operations in seven other U.S. states.

Interactive map detailing Alabama historic sites available

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new, interactive map highlights thousands of historical structures and places in Alabama.
  • The Alabama Historical Commission said its Historic Preservation Map Initiative is now available to the public. It includes images and links to paper files that have been converted into digital resources that can be viewed by clicking on multiple locations on an Alabama map.
  • The map is still a work in progress, but the agency said 42 of the state’s 67 counties have been plotted so far, and more than 40,000 points have been mapped into one layer. About 130,000 documents have been scanned including survey forms, photographs, booklets, and maps.
  • “As an easily accessible public record of Alabama historic resources, it also includes documentation of properties receiving state and federal tax credits, cemeteries, Native American sites and historic African-American schools,” commission chairman Eddie Griffith said in a statement.
  • The map can be viewed on a desktop computer or mobile devices.

Is spike in some areas’ drunk driving arrests virus related?

  • DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — A spike in drunk driving cases in an Alabama county has led to speculation that the stresses associated with the coronavirus pandemic may be behind the increase.
  • Morgan County sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford said his department made 43 DUI arrests in the first nine months of 2019. This year the total is 66 through Sept. 30, an increase of almost 54%.
  • Swafford tells The Decatur Daily that sheriff’s officials believe the pandemic is a factor.
  • “People are stressed more,” he said. “We’re seeing more cases of domestic violence, people arguing with their neighbors that we attribute to the stress of everyday living during this pandemic.”
  • But there has also been an increase in patrols under Sheriff Ron Puckett. And, another likely factor, he said, is the closure of two bridges on a U.S. highway that created a 16-mile detour.
  • Another state jurisdiction also is seeing an increase in DUI cases compared to other localities.
  • Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett believes the pandemic is behind the rise his department has seen in recent months. The police force had 19 DUI arrests from March 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2019, but the total jumped to 27 for the same period in this year.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Most of Black Belt region lacks sufficient internet access


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Dueling Jones, Tuberville polls show wide divergence


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ivey, Noem, Reynolds: An inspirational pick


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Group offers churches $6-a-ballot for early voting effort


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Senate to work through weekend to confirm Barrett


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Deadline looms, but COVID relief deal may be far off


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would change school funding to help growing systems


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New rule means businesses must reapply for tax licenses before 2021


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Despite past Democratic wins, Trump making a play for Nevada


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – October 19, 2020


AL.COM – Alabama adds 859 coronavirus cases, national cases surge


AL.COM – Does Doug Jones support abortion ‘up until birth’?


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: For one Alabama senator, too little daycare regulation is still too much


AL.COM – ‘It was disappointing’: Mobile County voters frustrated over inability to cast absentee ballots Saturday


AL.COM – ‘An awesome experience’: Over 1,300 cast ballots in ‘historic’ Jeffco Saturday voting


AL.COM – Madison County Confederate monument to be moved soon?


AL.COM – Brittany Smith talks from jail about pleading guilty to shooting the man she says raped her


AL.COM – Alabama’s libraries want to return post-pandemic world


AL.COM – How would a Sen. Tuberville serve if there’s no Trump?


AL.COM – How the evacuation of a nursing home in Alabama spread coronavirus


Montgomery Advertiser – Autauga County Board of Education set to select next superintendent Thursday


Montgomery Advertiser – Pannie-George’s honors Montgomery teens for work during COVID-19 pandemic


Montgomery Advertiser – Hilltop Arms apartment building


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham– Handwashing to prevent COVID-19: Does the temperature of the water matter?


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Pelham city councilor attempts to have city manager voted out


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa firefighter returns home to recover from coronavirus


Tuscaloosa News – Woman dies after attack by dogs in Walker County


Tuscaloosa News – Plant expansion bringing jobs, investment to Tuscaloosa County


Tuscaloosa News – Tuscaloosa officers receive mental health training


Decatur Daily – Wiley appointment creates final conflict for outgoing council


Decatur Daily – Company gets extension of tax abatements after unexpected construction expenses


Decatur Daily – Decatur police investigate crash in which vehicle left scene


Times Daily – Wreck halts U.S. 72 west traffic for hours


Times Daily – State Fire Marshall asked to investigate LaGrange Road house fire


Times Daily – Grants will help renovate, raise funds, for historic Village School building


Anniston Star – Calhoun County COVID infections on the rise, local officials say


Anniston Star – Jim Klinefelter, Anniston lawyer and Democratic leader, dies at 94


Anniston Star – Calhoun County inmate charged with assaulting officer


YellowHammer News – Spacecraft launched by Alabama-built rocket to attempt historic feat on Tuesday


YellowHammer News – Alabama’s Hi.Ed, Innovation Depot’s newest member, guiding students from K-12 to the workforce


YellowHammer News – State Rep. Lovvorn gives check to Auburn’s Warrior Research Center for research that will benefit firefighters and soldiers


Gadsden Times – Etowah County Board of Education to meet Thursday


Gadsden Times – Downtown Gadsden entities reap Main Street Alabama honors


Gadsden Times – Lagatha’s House of Axe brings growing activity of axe throwing to Gadsden


Dothan Eagle – Troy University waives college admissions exams for 2021


Dothan Eagle – Flowers Hospital to end inpatient services for children


Dothan Eagle – Miss Wallace Jennifer Bradley excited to represent college


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika council to consider closing sections of downtown for football-viewing events


Opelika-Auburn News – The Latest: UK to infect healthy volunteers to speed vaccine


Opelika-Auburn News – Thai Cabinet approves Parliament session to debate protests


WSFA Montgomery – Gov. Ivey open to special session on COVID-19 business liability protections


WSFA Montgomery – COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations increasing again in Alabama


WSFA Montgomery – Concerns over false positive test for coach Nick Saban


WAFF Huntsville – Doug Jones, Tommy Tuberville ads spark debate


WAFF Huntsville – Marshall County election officials encourage everyone to register to vote on last day


WAFF Huntsville – Raising money for Mammography Assistance Program; Pink Pumpkin Run goes virtual


WKRG Mobile – Mobile police searching for missing 17-year-old


WKRG Mobile – MPD: DUI suspect said he was COVID-19 positive, coughs in officer’s face


WKRG Mobile – UPDATE: Mother facing two counts of federal kidnapping after children found safe


WTVY Dothan – Flowers Hospital making changes to pediatric services


WTVY Dothan – Tuberville claims he has fallen behind Jones before quickly changing story


WTVY Dothan – Early voting kicks off in Sunshine State


WASHINGTON POST – Supreme Court denies GOP request to stop extended deadline for mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, a key state for Trump


WASHINGTON POST – Post-ABC poll: Trump and Biden are in a dead heat in North Carolina


WASHINGTON POST – Trump attacks ‘Fauci and all these idiots,’ says public is tired of pandemic, public health restrictions as infection rates rise


NEW YORK TIMES – Supreme Court Tie Gives Pennsylvania More Time to Tally Some Votes


NEW YORK TIMES – As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place


NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Calls Fauci ‘a Disaster’ and Shrugs Off Virus as Infections Soar


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Stimulus Talks Deadline


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Covid-19’s Global Divide: As West Reels, Asia Keeps Virus at Bay


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Intel Enters Deal to Sell NAND Memory Unit to SK Hynix




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